The Los Angeles Living Wage Coalition explains the fight to extend the city’s living wage ordinance to workers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This 1998 production features interviews with Madeline Janis-Aparicio (LAANE) and Jackie Goldberg (L.A. City Counsel) as well as scenes of Mike Garcia leading a protest by SEIU Local 1877 at LAX. Rank-and-file workers explain the struggle of living in L.A. while earning low wages.
As leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Miguel Contreras (1952-2005) reshaped LA’s unions into a powerful political, economic, and social force. The child of farm workers, Contreras was an organizer for the United Farm Workers union (UFW), and later the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union (HERE). He led the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor from 1996 until is death in 2005. The LA Alliance for a New Economy produced this video documenting Contreras’s life story and his impact on the city’s labor movement.
After a majority of workers at the New Otani Hotel in downtown Los Angeles supported unionization, hotel management refused to negotiate. Members of HERE Local 11 from other Los Angeles hotels pledged to support the New Otani workers with weekly demonstrations that escalated into long-lasting boycott. This 1996 video produced by HERE Local 11 documents the union’s strategy of targeting the Kajima Corporation, a large Japanese construction firm that was the major stakeholders in the New Otani, which led to alliances with Japanese trade unionists and the Japanese-American community in Los Angeles. An example of “corporate campaigns” that many unions mounted in the 1980s, the boycott campaign focused on Kajima’s role in mid-century Japanese military expansion, the privatization of public services in Japan during the 1980s, and the public development subsidies Los Angeles had provided to Kajima and its partners. The film ends with scenes of a large act of nonviolent civil disobedience in the streets outside the hotel.
This video produced by the LA Alliance for a New Economy documents elements of the Living Wage campaign in Los Angeles. An actor dressed as the ghost of Jacob Marley from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” haunts LA’s city hall warning the mayor and council members to consider the needs of low wage workers in December 1996. The video also includes interviews with activists following a successful vote in the council in March 1997. The ordinance covered workers city contractors.
In 2004, voters in the city of Inglewood rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed retail giant WalMart to bypass the opposition of the city council to their big-box store. This documentary, narrated by a local minister, describes the unprecedented labor-community coalition that defeated the world’s largest corporation.
Supporters of the Raise L.A. coalition celebrate a vote of the Los Angeles city council in September 2014. Under the new law, large nonunion hotels in Los Angeles would raise their minimum wage to $15.37 by 2015. The campaign was part of a multi-year strategy led by LAANE and UNITE HERE Local 11 to establish a “living wage” in the hotel industry.
October 15, 1993, Blessed Sacrament Church, Hollywood, California. Once again, the harassment of the undocumented es a theme of popular politics. In defense of the human and civil rights of immigrants, El Proyecto Padre Luis Olivares called for a vigil, procession, and mass.
On May 1, 2006 hundreds of thousands marched in Los Angeles and other large U.S. cities in support of immigrant rights. This video is from the Los Angeles Independent Media Center (IMC, http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/05/156112.php). Indymedia in LA and elsewhere was an important venue for social movement news in the early 2000s.